Last year, Google added SMS support to Hangouts, along with several other features. However, prior to this, the company also had a similar feature available in emerging markets that let users add their phone numbers to its instant messaging platform. Similar to Google’s defunct Gmail SMS service, this was an alternative for feature phone users and people in regions with limited internet access.
According to a report from The Wall Street Journal, Google is now in the middle of a new project that will see the company develop wireless networks in emerging countries including sub-Saharan Africa and Southeast Asia. Google plans on teaming up with local companies to develop the wireless networks, which are said to use airwaves normally reserved for TV, but will first have to get government approvals:
Some of those efforts revolve around using certain airwaves reserved for TV broadcasts to create wireless networks, but only if government regulators allowed it, these people said. Google has long been involved in public trials to prove the technology—which operates at lower frequencies than some cell networks, allowing signals to be more easily transmitted through buildings and other obstacles and across longer distances—can work. And it has begun talking to regulators in countries such as South Africa and Kenya about changing current rules to allow such networks to be built en masse.
The report mentions that Google is also “building an ecosystem of new microprocessors and low-cost smartphones powered by its Android mobile operating system to connect to the wireless networks,” although it didn’t offer up any other specific information on the devices.
It also points out a Google X project that takes advantage of “special balloons or blimps, known as high-altitude platforms, to transmit signals to an area of hundreds of square miles,” but it’s unclear whether or not the two projects are connected. Expand Expanding Close